How golf (and Zoom) is helping me and my friends through the pandemic

michael bamberger on a zoom call

This is the last piece in a five-part Bamberger Briefly series about golfers returning to their playfields. You can read the first installment (golf in Pennsylvania) here; the second (Minnesota) here; the third (Massachusetts) here; and the fourth (Indiana) here


Henry B. in Los Angeles writes: “I’m going to come out of this a better putter.”

As the year is 2020, that proclamation arrived here in the Philadelphia bureau by email and in a flash, but its underlying message was universal and timeless: The situation is challenging but good will come from it.

What an odd two months, for all of us. I’m in contact with friends — by email and phone call, via Zoom and mental telepathy, sometimes in person in the park — from every phase of my life. When I went to George M.’s wedding, thirtysomething years ago, he was a volleyball player, a paddler, an ax thrower. The other day, we talked about getting together on Martha’s Vineyard for … golfI didn’t even know George played golf.

I’ve corresponded with a high school classmate, John R., who was a baseball player, a scholar and a gentleman in our Patchogue, L.I., youth. Now he’s a golfer who had planned to volunteer at the U.S. Open at Winged Foot in June. Evidently, sometime after 1978, John fell into the game’s web.

I’ve had exchanges with Jim K. in Hawaii and Andy S. in upstate New York, Morty M. in Pasadena, Bill M. in South Jersey and Sam R. in South Florida. Golf bum, golf bum, golf bum, golf bum, golf bum. The conversation, to and fro, is north of howyadoin’? It’s more like, “How are you?” But masked through the prism of our XY DNA.

We’re asking each other personal questions. (“How many clubs you carrying?”) We’re making dumb observations. (“Couldn’t they just put a partition in the cart to separate the driver from the other guy?”) We’re making broad philosophical statements. (“I never knew how much the game meant to me.”) Profound, no, not on the surface. This is us.

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Did you see the new Seinfeld thing on Netflix? He’s got a golf bit: Golf is like trying to throw a Tic Tac 100 yards into a shoebox.

Back to Henry B., in Los Angeles, who will return as a better putter. Unsaid is this: And you will see it for yourself, before too long here. When air travel is a thing again, when hotel breakfasts and caddies and two-down automatics are things again. When we meet again.

Henry and I are both interested in Dan Jenkins and his life and times. Henry sent me some Ring Lardner and wondered if I could see the Jenkins antecedents in it and did I know that Abe North in Tender is the Night is based on Lardner?

The things we golfers say and do in the name of ____.

We’re heading back to our courses, in this month of May, here and there and most everywhere. Still, we end our missives with, “Stay safe.”

Michael Bamberger welcomes your comments at

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